The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

"Apparently, I'm stronger than I thought... just in the wrong places!! "

The above comment was part of a post over at the 101 board. I loved it. We concentrate on the trivial, the short-term, the dangerously imbalanced. We neglect the kind of internal work that gives us long-term health and happiness. Try to meditate, and find out just how fast the dog's toenails desperately need to be clipped.

Watching my son learn this, I have to laugh. Whether I'm coaching him through his breathing in the morning, or reading our nightly chapter of Tom Sawyer, he suddenly notices a world of body sensations or environmental fascinations undreamed of during the previous hours. He has to learn that we are not our sensations, thoughts, and inner voices. So do we all.

A good way to turn our imbalanced "strengths" to positive use is to prioritize actions. If we find it easy to read (a necessity) but hard to exercise (a necessity) then make it a rule that you must exercise BEFORE you read.

We can also be so strong we cannot take our brakes off. Learning to relax and recharge in healthful ways is critical to long-term success and health. Yoga is wonderful for this, creating a controlled stress environment where you can test to the edge of failure again and again. When you learn to relate this breathing pattern to the ones you use in the other 23 hours of the day, you will have made an important discovery for which there is no direct English language.


suzanne said...

"He has to learn that we are not our sensations, thoughts, and inner voices. So do we all."

my thoughts, sensations and
inner voices are a major aspect of me!
too often people
do not attend to these as parts of Self

or perhaps I've mis-taken
what you meant to convey

suzanne said...

"He has to learn that we are not our sensations, thoughts, and inner voices. So do we all."

I consider my
and inner voices
very much a part of me
you might even say
essential parts

perhaps I have mis-taken
what you meant to convey
but I think kids
very much need to know
all of this is part of Self

suzanne said...

sorry for the double posting
there's something terribly strange
going on when you hit
Publish Your Comment
you get an error message
and a code to report it
and there doesn;t appear to be a comment saved
bu in
fact they are there

Steven Barnes said...

Testing this, Suzanne. I agree that our internal voices are aspects of our experience of self, but do not consider them to be "me." Counselors, echoes of experience, yes. But I couldn't begin to measure the amount of damage suffered by people who think those voices are actually "them."

suzanne said...

what then IS
the actual YOU???

suzanne said...

I think I get it now, steve
by inner voices
you must have meeant those inncorporated ones
(the BAD voices)
that tell you you can't achieve something or are worhtless
whereas I meant the creative
authentic inner voices
of Selfhood
(the Good Voices)

what, it seems to me,
is important
is that one learn to distinguish between
Good and Bad Voices
o use an overly simplistic dichotomy

that's the treasure to give
a child
the ability to distinguish what is AUTHENTIC
in the Self versus what is
chaff or toxic chaff

klaram said...


Anonymous said...

"You are what listens to the voices."

Steven Barnes said...

Exactly. You are what listens to the voices. Every profound discipline I know of (and certainly all I have practiced) operate to separate you from your sensory perceptions, memories, internal voices, desires, thoughts. You are not these things. And it is possible to discover this, and what you actually are, although there ain't really much useful language around the issue. How could there be? Language depends on common experience, and this experience is uncommon as it gets.